We’re greeted, for the first time in weeks, by the cold opening to KingCast. It’s not the streets of the sea-side Halifax, or the increasingly familiar hamlet of Uniondale. Instead, it seems to be the set of At the Wrestling, or, rather, a meticulous reproduction of the original. Indeed, whichever poor soul was tasked with the unenviable task of creating a carbon copy of the original set seemed to spare no expense, nor did they waiver on any attention to the most minute of details; even the thread-count on the upholstery atop the wooden stools seems to be pitch-perfect.
There is no sound, but for the low whirring of the studio’s lights, until the tell-tale clip-clopping of fine, Italian shoes can be heard in the distance. They’re shortly followed by a voice – the voice, as it happens, of East Coast Excellence.
“I said goddamn!” he bellows from off-screen. There’s a playful lilt in his voice; a near sing-song quality to his speech. It’s clear he’s had a drink or two. It’s even clearer that he’s smiling. “Goddamn,” he repeats, “god. Damn.”
Jarvis, indeed with a wry smile accompanying his glass of Johnnie Walker Red, ambles into view. He winks at the camera and adjusts his tie, checking to see that it is straight with the lapels of his suit. “It is good to be back,” he says. “And not in some sort of ‘oh it’s been a hot minute since there was last a KingCast’ sort of way…no, no, no…” Jarvis drains the last of his scotch and leaps over the stools with a flourish. He takes a seat, and sets the glass down on the table in front of himself, snapping at someone off-camera to fill it again.
“It’s good,” he says, continuing, “to be back to being myself.”
A stagehand, obviously concerned about being in Jarvis’s shot, slinks in with a half-empty bottle of Johnnie Red and fills the glass.
Jarvis is a bit drunk. This is perhaps the stagehand’s only saving grace as he trips, spilling a bit of the amber liquid from the now mostly empty bottle; Jarvis pays him no mind as he picks up the glass and takes another sip.
“See,” he says, “I’ve heard almost nothing but three little words all over social media, all over the streets, all over the fuckin’ world.” He sloshes his drink a bit as he makes air-quotes. “All I hear is ‘Why Jarvis, why?’” He laughs, his cheeks reddening. “Oh, we’ll get to that my friend. I promise you that. It’ll all be fuckin’ crystal goddamn clear soon enough…but first, formalities must be followed. Wouldn’t want us to lose our fuckin’ manners, would we?”
Jarvis stands up, and lifts his glass in a mocking toast to the camera. “This, motherfuckers, is KingCast. The first real KingCast in years. The first KingCast where I can be myself.”
Jarvis takes a healthy swig of his Scotch and takes a seat with a self-satisfied grin on his face. The smile fades after a beat, however, as King stares at the camera. “What the fuck are you waiting for?” he says, “Roll the intro!”
With that, we’re taken not to the normal KingCast intro. Indeed, it’s not “Hello Timebomb” that greets us, but instead Hoobastank’s “Crawling in the Dark”, and gone is the normal mixture of shots of East Coast Excellence in action; instead we’re greeted by the following monstrosity:
As the title card fades away, we come back to Jarvis, with a thoroughly unimpressed look on his face. He whistles through his teeth and gestures off-screen. A new stagehand – clearly, the last guy was either too scared to reappear, or got himself fired off-screen – appears with a new bottle, which Jarvis snatches from him with little hesitation and even less attention. The stagehand slinks off-screen and Jarvis pours himself more scotch.
“Jesus Christ,” he says, setting the bottle down. “If there’s a fuckin’ cliché that rings true in professional wrestling more than ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same,’ I dunno what the fuck it is. Without fuckin’ fail, Jarvis King turns his back for two goddamn weeks, and someone’s trying to bite his entire goddamn style…but then again, that’s been your whole raison d’etre, hasn’t it, Colton?” Jarvis smirks and shakes his head as he takes a sip. “More on that later, Macey. I promise, we’re going to get to you as soon as we can.”
With that, the camera zooms out, and a shot from the dying moments of the previous installment of Evolution appears on the green screen behind Jarvis’s left shoulder. King’s foot, planted firmly on The Ringmaster’s chest, with Jace Valentine, Duce Jones, and Freddie Styles flanking the Paramount Champion. “Seems there are some pressing questions coming out of this week’s episode of the CWF’s flagship, aren’t there?” he says, the sarcasm in his voice dripping from every syllable. “Seems to me, a lot of people are wondering why, as if it’s not obvious, Jarvis King broke their little hearts so!”
King laughs, cruelly, and shakes his head. “I mean, honestly…It’s not a hard problem here. It’s just a matter of taking a look at history.” The picture changes to a shot of Jarvis and Valentine from just a few weeks back. The latter hands the former his property – the Paramount Championship – with a smile. The Jarvis in the image is confused, suspicious, and trepidatious. Valentine, for his part, smiles warmly, apparently without any ill intent. “See,” says Jarvis in studio, “this is an important moment in wrestling history. It’s perhaps the most important moment in my career to this point – a career that has included five championship reigns, a hall of fame induction, and a Modern Warfare win.”
“This…” he says, gesturing pointedly, “this is the moment where an important truism, a bare-bones fact of this industry…a matter that I knew, but only thought that I understood, started to become completely clear to me.” Jarvis smiles, sipping his drink, before he continues. “Now, much like a torrent of rainfall takes its time to saturate the topsoil, this lesson hadn’t completely sunk in when Jace handed me that title…but it certainly had begun to take hold.”
“I mean, think back to the year – the last twelve months - that I’ve had,” Jarvis says. The image behind him changes to that of Shane Donovan, standing over Ian King, Solstice mask in his hand following their unsanctioned fight at Confliction. “We don’t even have to go back the full year. Just look at this. This was a moment where a man who was supposed to be my best fucking friend opted to throw all of that aside in favour of jealousy and avarice.”
The image changes again, this time to Christian STARR, having just lost – and then stolen – the Paramount title from Jarvis. “Even those who claimed to be admirers of yours truly turned ugly when they came face-to-face with the reality of being in the same ring as Jarvis King.” The image turns again to the leviathan-like Eclipse, stealing the Paramount title after King’s successful defence. “I’ve faced monsters, both imagined and real, this year. I’ve stood against those who wished me nothing but harm, and yet…”
The shot turns now to that of Jarvis and Valentine, embracing in Toronto. “It took a simple act of kindness for my whole world to change.”
King takes a sip from his drink as the image fades. “Jace Valentine. A man I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with, and yet he hands me my Paramount Championship, and asks nothing from me in return. Like I said, that simple act started to drive home a very simple, elemental, fundamental, rudimentary truth to me in a way that it had never truly had before. From that moment, to the moment where he and I had a drink to discuss the future just moments after Evolution went off the air that week, to Summer Games and the weeks that followed…I began to accept the truth – to let it penetrate my very being and permeate my very soul.”
“And the truth is…this isn’t the Wrestling Friendship…it’s the Wrestling Business.”
Jarvis sets his drink down and smirks. “See, it’s a fact that I’ve maybe ignored for too damn long. Wrestling doesn’t owe you a damn thing, and the people that you think are your friends in this business would just as soon stab you in the back and kick you while your down as help you to your feet in a moment of weakness. I experienced that time and time again, and somehow, I was shocked over and over again when it happened. You can’t get be surprised at a hungry, rabid dog for choosing to bite you when you extend your hand to it. It’s in the dog’s nature to lash out.”
“I played the damn fool for months. It was high time that I stopped, and started acting like a fucking businessman. Which meant that I had to choose a higher calibre of business associates.” Jarvis smiles at the camera, knowingly. “Now, I know what you’re thinking. ‘But Jarvis,’ you say. ‘Jace Valentine. Freddie Styles. Duce Jones…they’d just as soon stab you in the back as shake your hand!’”
Jarvis laughs heartily. “Don’t you see?” he says, stifling the laughter long enough to speak. “That’s the fucking point! If, and when, Jace, Duce or Freddie choose to turn on me, I’ll know exactly why – it’s not personal, it’s just fuckin’ business. So, in the meantime, I might as well choose some business associates who have the same goals that I do, shouldn’t I? They ought to have the same values as the one and only East Coast Excellence, right?”
“You all have seen it, haven’t you? The CWF – my fucking home, the place that I’ve come back time and again to defend – has gone to hell in a fucking handbasket. We’ve had carpetbaggers, so-called celebrities, hell, even Dick fucking Fury trying to make a play at the top of this company, like they’ve goddamn belonged. In the wake of all of this chaos, a man who doesn’t have the chops to lace my fuckin’ boots was World Champion for a hot second…and for some reason, a carnival barker’s been running around, acting like he’s the cock of the goddamn walk and pretending that he belongs in the ring with the Best of all Time. Well, let me tell you, this B.O.A.T. does not set sail under these circumstances.”
“So, when Jace, Freddie, and Duce came at me with their solution – a grouping of the greatest, a collection of champions, a menagerie of main eventers…how could I say no?”
Jarvis picks up his glass, and drains it. He picks up the bottle, but thinks better of it and sets it down before continuing. “The Glass Ceiling,” he says, thoughtfully. “A collection of like-minded businessmen, who are looking to return things to their…natural order. That’s something I can invest in. That’s the whole reason I returned to this company in the first place, almost a year ago.”
“And,” he says, pointing at the camera, “that brings us to this week quite nicely, doesn’t it, Colton.” Another image appears over Jarvis’s left shoulder. This is not one of triumph for the Paramount Champion; instead it is maybe the lowest of the lows of the last twelve months. A steel chair, wrapped around his neck. The boot, that of Colton Mace, coming down on it. A frozen moment in time, mere seconds before weeks of rehabilitation. Jarvis, in studio, grimaces.
“I haven’t forgotten this moment, Mace,” he says, darkly. “This moment, an instant in time that cost me months of my career. A moment that, thanks to your new pal Jaiden, you’ve avoided full accountability for. Until now.”
“I didn’t know it then like I do now, Colton, but this moment stands as the perfect representation of the old Jarvis King. The Jarvis King that, for all of his accolades and accomplishments, was nothing more than a fucking rube who was willing to trust those who didn’t desere i. This was a guy who thought that our history, as checkered as it was, might have contained enough good memories for you to do the so-called ‘right thing’ and show me some goddamn mercy.”
King laughs, shaking his head derisively at the ‘old’ Jarvis. “Like I said, Colton…that guy was a fucking rube. Frankly – and this may surprise you – I don’t really begrudge you for this moment. I don’t ascribe blame to a situation that is blameless. You saw an opportunity. You tasted blood in the water and as a younger, smarter, faster shark, you lunged at the chance to eliminate an obstacle to your greatness for good. As upset as I may have been at the time, Colton…I applaud your gumption now. You did good, kid. I like to think that, when we were associates, I taught you a couple of lessons that lead you to making this move.”
“The part,” he says, smiling and shaking his head, “that I can’t forgive, is that you didn’t follow it up. You had your chance and you fucking failed, Mace. You left me the chance to stand up, dust myself off, and provide you with a receipt…and here’s the thing, Mace…I intend to deliver that receipt, in full, this week at Evolution.”
Jarvis smirks. “See, you’re all proud of yourself, and with good reason – you’re stepping into your first one-on-one opportunity at the World Title at WrestleFest. You’re reaching new heights. But before you reach those new heights…you’re going to hit The Glass Ceiling.”
Jarvis laughs. “Oh, and by the way,” he says before the scene starts to gradually fade to black. “You may be thinking, ‘Whatever Jarvis, you’re drunk.’ And you’re right. The thing is though, tomorrow, I’ll be sober. And you’ll still be a fucking poor pretender to the crown of Jarvis King. And believe me, Colton…you will bow down.”